Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Brew in Awhile, and... CRAP - Old Hops!

Yeah it's been awhile - Meg and I have been traveling, working like crazy (Meg landed an event planning gig at Revolution Brewing), hosting and attending parties, yadda yadda. Even though rain was in the forecast today, I said heck with it - it's rained like the past 3 times we've brewed, we'll deal! We need a good IPA on tap, stat.

So the mash and everything went well, then it started to sprinkle, then thunder and lightning got me thinking we need to do something. Normally I'd rig up the tarp, but since we've had work done on our house, all the hook-up spots where gone, so into the garage is was! Surprisingly, this worked really well - why hadn't we just done this before? ANYWAYS...

We get the kettle fired up and I chuck my bittering hops in, some Columbus - 1oz as a first wort, then 2oz in a hop sack come boil. After we've been boiling 10 minutes or so, Meg and I are chatting over the kettle when I notice a minty smell - I ask Meg about it and she's like, "Yeah, herbally." I fetch some of the Columbus pellets and crack one open - crap, that's it. I check my inventory records, and we bought a pound of these in May 2010 - crap. We store them pretty well - wrapped in the oxygen barrier bag they come in, wrapped in another freezer bag. But I guess old is old unless you're super crazy and vacuum seal every time, and we don't have one of those. I noticed kind of an herbally flavor in one of my more recent beers too, likely the same problem - hops we bought in bulk last year are noticeably oxidizing. I know that's usually a cheesy smell, but seems it can be herbally too. Maybe it's herbally cheesy.

So back to brewing - I immediately take the hop sack out, nothing to do about the 1oz still in the kettle. Fortunately, the rest of the hops - Centennial and Simcoe, were fresh - so all good there and I think all will turn out well. I mean, there's like 5oz of hops in this recipe before we even get to the dry hopping.

But from here on out, I'm keeping on eye on hop freshness and smelling everything before I dump it in the kettle - cheers!